A four-year study by Columbia University’s TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups highlighted the importance of routine mental health screenings in high schools, as many at-risk youths have yet to be properly identified.

The study found that of the students who were identified as at-risk for a mental health problem, three out of four were not in treatment at time of the screening. But after the screening, “76.3 percent completed at least one visit with a mental health provider within 90 days of screening. More than half, 56.3 percent, received minimally adequate treatment, defined as having three or more visits with a provider, or any number of visits if termination was agreed to by the provider.”

The study was conducted between 2005 and 2009 and encompassed nearly 2,500 high school students from six schools in suburban Wisconsin, according to a TeenScreen press release. The students were screened using a computerized questionnaire called the Diagnostic Predictive Scales-8 and received a one-on-one debriefing afterward. Those who tested “positive” had a second interview with a clinician who then referred the student to services for his or her mental health problem.

Because 50 percent of all lifetime mental health disorders begin to develop around age 14, the center says, it is important to begin screening early and often.